Friday, January 22, 2010

The AVATAR Phenomenon ; Part One- What Some Filmgoers Are Saying

avatar Pictures, Images and Photos

Its been a couple of days since I saw the incredible motion picture Avatar. After experiencing (rather than merely seeing) the movie, one of the first things I've done was to see what others thought of the film, and where this phenomenon is going- because it appears now that Avatar the Film has mutated into Avatar the Cultural Touchstone.

I've decided to break this entry into three parts; my personal thoughts and a look at the film's mythology will follow in a separate columns to be published later.

One of the most intriguing articles I've read online about Avatar was London's Daily Mail Online. The article's title says it all; "The Avatar effect: Movie-goers feel depressed and even suicidal at not being able to visit utopian alien planet". This piece talks at length about people who were so drawn into the magical and mystical world of PANDORA that, either consciously or unconsciously, they became affected in some manner. The use of 3d imagery and IMAX (in certain theaters) brings the viewer into a situation that is much like "virtual reality"; this fantasy world and its storyline appears to be real and the viewer's subconscious recognizes this as being a "part of the action".

Avatar Movie Forum, has several long threads about how personally people were affected by the film. One thread was titled "Really Sad"- the person who initiated the thread said he/she has felt distracted and sad for days since seeing the movie.

There was another thread, "I'm glad I'm not crazy for feeling like I'm the only one".....the person who began the thread talked about sadness since seeing the movie, as if he were drawn into the story and its characters so much so he felt they were real. His wife and his sister-in-law (according to the writer) think that he's crazy. The writer had a sense of relief after he saw there were others who felt the same way. Some of the responders to the thread had an emotional attachment to the computer generated Na'vi, the simple blue hunter-gatherers who were the films protagonists. One or two felt that those affected were "old souls" being reawakened into action via reincarnation. Some felt resentment at being labeled as "loser geeks" by some media types. There is definitely a segment of the forum members who joined up because they were attracted by the support afforded by others who felt as they did.

Another thread, "A Once In a Lifetime Experience", goes back to early in January and has four pages and counting. Most respondents seemed to have partaken of that once in a lifetime experience on multiple occasions- some speak of going to see AVATAR four of five times. Just about all are in agreement that AVATAR was something unique and among the best, if not the best, motion pictures they have ever seen.

Some comments I found very intriguing were in the the thread Can anyone get it out of your head this movie makes me feel weird. This writer found more of a connection with earth than he had previous to viewing the film, and feels that seeing AVATAR was a life changing experience. Those who have responded seem to concur.

Avatar Blog is another community site with some interesting topics as well. One of the topics that caught my eye was The Cure For The Avatar Blues. The piece talks about a CNN Entertainment report of people feeling depressed after seeing the film. Writer-director James Cameron has the perfect cure for all who are suffering the Avatar Blues"

"Take a walk in the woods, reacquaint with the nature we have right here".

Ask ten different people why they think Avatar has affected people the way it has and you'll likely get ten different answers. I have a personal opinion about it, I may be wrong, I may be right. But I think the underlying reason for the Avatar phenomenon is because it addresses something we tend to neglect in our lives....a matter of our spirit. Not in a dogmatic religious sense, but Avatar quells our need to reconnect not only with nature, but with our own inner selves.

I'll talk about this more in Part Two of this piece.

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